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How it started / How it’s going: Fouad Olayan, Morning MBA ‘22


This blog post is part of a series showcasing Morning/Evening MBA students and the career transitions which the program helped them accomplish. All the posts can be viewed on the Working Professional Blog page. Fouad details his experience at Rotman and provides advice for future students.

Quick Info

  • Name: Fouad Olayan
  • Graduate Year: 2022
  • Morning or Evening MBA: Morning MBA
  • Current position and employer: Senior Associate, Capital Projects & Infrastructure, PwC Canada 
  • Previous position and employer: Project Manager, Colliers Project Leaders

Having worked in various roles in the construction industry for almost 12 years, Fouad Olayan, Morning MBA ’22, had gained plenty of experience and exposure to different parts of the industry’s ecosystem. Although he had worn many different hats, he was craving a greater change.

Fouad took gradual steps to explore other parts of the construction industry ecosystem. He realized that he wanted to grow into a role involving capital projects that deal with projects as a business challenge, a shift from his current experience of realization and execution of construction projects.

“I wanted to become more involved all over the life cycle of the project and focus on addressing projects from a business and strategy perspective.”

With the help of the Rotman School, Fouad made a significant advance and transitioned from Project Manager at Colliers Project Leaders to Senior Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The initial steps

Fouad connected with individuals within his field who had managed to transition and gained a clearer insight on types of projects and work requirements. After a number of discussions with consultants, he started to better understand their unique experiences and challenges.

These eye-opening interactions excited Fouad and made him interested in pursuing a career transition, leading him to think about an MBA.

“I saw the MBA as a huge accelerator for me and I’m very glad that I took that decision to help me transition from engineering and project management into consulting.”

Why Rotman

Fouad chose Rotman based on the School’s reputation, program structure, and location.

The brand and reputation stood out to him as a foundation for his investment into the program. Next, the program’s flexibility allowed him to study while working on his career. Lastly, the downtown campus location allowed Fouad to remain present In Toronto without having to relocate.

Coming from an engineering background, Fouad gained the business skills needed to transition. Rotman helped Fouad’s transition with three main elements.

Academic background

Firstly, Rotman’s curriculum helped Fouad lay the foundation for basic principles and concepts in finance, economics, and strategy which have come to be used in work discussions within his new position.

“Having the ability to bounce off ideas that you learned from class discussions and classmates with your colleagues is very valuable to me as it gives me opportunities to test the knowledge I'm absorbing in class right into my role.”

Communication and leadership skills

In addition to academic work, the program helped with his leadership and communication skills through in-class presentations, discussions with groups, teamwork engagements, and the self-development lab.

The self-development lab Rotman helped Fouad in developing and nurturing the communication, interactive and interpersonal skills essential to the collaborative problem solver and decision maker needed in contemporary organizations.

“The courses that heavily relied on communication benefitted me a lot, as you can have all the information in the world, but if you cannot communicate, you cannot lead with that information.”

Technical expertise

Lastly, through taking courses in financial modeling, he gained more advanced Excel skills, which helped pave the way into consulting.

“I look at myself how I started and how it’s going, and I've improved so much since I started the program.”

Advice and reflection for prospective students

To balance the busy lifestyle of class assignments, work, and family, Fouad advocates developing effective time management skills and evaluating priorities when choosing between responsibilities.

“In the beginning it is a bit overwhelming but as you get more into the program you start to better understand how to manage your time and select what is of most value to you. You are then able to dedicate time for each activity during the week or on the weekends. While it has been challenging and there’s always lots to do, it’s also extremely rewarding.”

“It’s so important to communicate to anyone that needs your time or is expecting certain attention that this new workload will be hard from the beginning. Communicating this early with family and coworkers helps secure support that you will need throughout this journey.”

Fouad was initially motivated to pursue the Morning/Evening MBA program to develop a business background and build his career. However, once he started the program, he found that there were many more aspects to the degree, especially the soft skills and leadership elements. Through courses he took at Rotman, he gained communication, leadership, and negotiation skills, which exceeded his initial expectations.

The application process

As for applications to the Morning/Evening MBA program, Fouad recommends to not worry too much about a single factor, but to ensure that the overall application reflects your values.

“Your application is looked at holistically, rather than evaluated on just one or two particular criteria. I personally did not have the highest GMAT, but one of my strong aspects was my experience in the construction industry.”

“Present yourself in the best way possible and don’t be afraid to reach out to get one-on-one feedback on your application from the Morning/Evening MBA recruitment & admissions assistant directors (Angela Forster and Rummy Gill). They even connected me with students in the program who gave me lots of insight into the application process.”

To learn more about the Morning & Evening MBA and to ask questions, contact us and send us your resume for pre-assessment. 


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